Videos to Teach Safety Around Dogs: Are They Effective?

There are a number of videos that teach children how to be safe around dogs. The American Kennel Club’s video, “The Dog Listener” uses young actors to show children how to handle potentially dangerous situations with dogs including how to react when an unknown dog is running in a park (

The “Eddie Eagle” video of the National Rifle Association (NRA) teaches children what to do if they encounter a gun in a place they didn’t expect, and numerous “stranger danger” videos aim to prevent kidnapping by teaching children to never get in a car with someone they don’t know.

kid meets dog - beachHow effective are these educational videos? As it turns out, there is experimentally controlled research on this very topic of using videos to teach children safety behaviors and the answer is…drumroll please……

Videos alone are not effective in teaching safety behaviors to children.

A well-known researcher in this area, Dr. Ray Miltenberger, taught a group of children everything they needed to know about gun safety using stand-up training and a video. “If you find a gun, don’t touch it, go and get an adult.” The children learned the material, and answered questions correctly. Then, immediately following the instruction, they were given the opportunity to do an activity and have a snack. The researchers had placed a (disabled) gun on the snack table. With a group of mortified parents watching via a hidden camera, one child found the gun, picked it up, and pointed it at the head of another child.

When dog trainers use a video such as AKC’s “The Dog Listener” to teach children to be safe around dogs, the video can serve as a good starting point for the discussion. Then, two things need to happen for the instruction to be effective: 1) the children need to have practice using the skills with real dogs; the instructor provides modeling and reinforcement of correct behaviors, and 2) the training with real dogs needs to be generalized to the child’s home and neighborhood setting with a parent or adult providing training and feedback.

– Mary R. Burch, PhD, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D)




About Canine Good Citizen

AKC Canine Good Citizen Director, Author of the AKC's official CGC book, "CITIZEN CANINE"
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4 Responses to Videos to Teach Safety Around Dogs: Are They Effective?

  1. Janet Mines Krings says:

    Whether I am watching TV or surfing on my computer, it is clear–advertisers know they need to present their products to me over and over before I will take notice and consider buying something. Children’s TV programs are full of the same exciting ads, presented to capture their attention–repeatedly. Because this is how we learn–with repetition. So when we want kids to learn about gun safety, or stranger danger, or safety around dogs, all those lessons need to be repeated in effective ways. A single dose is not ever going to be enough. And kids are going to need to see the adults in their lives carrying out the proper behaviors as well, so they can mirror that for themselves. Watching, listening, doing–many times–over time, will be the best way to learn.

  2. Emma says:

    I posted this question before but didn’t get an answer, so I’m trying again…

    If you earn the Community Canine title, the CGCA replaces the CGC title that was at the end of your dog’s title name before, correct? (i.e. Cota’s Almond Joy CGC becomes Cota’s Almond Joy CGCA) What happens if you then also earn the Urban title? Does the CGCU replace the CGCA? I thought that the CGCA was supposed to be the most advanced of the CGC family of titles, but then I don’t understand what happens then if you earn the CGCU. Clarification?

    • valerie j. vihlen schluter says:

      CGC is replaced by earning the next level
      but when you earn CGCU you get both titles added to your dogs name..
      home that helps

  3. landsharkinnc says:

    re children’s safety around dogs — needs to start at home with dog wise parents; The majority of the hair-raising ‘you tube’ “CUTE” clips of baby/toddler interactions with a dog is with the family pet – not a dog in a park, or a dog unknown to the child. We have to start with the parents – at the place/time of purchase and certainly if they are in classes with the puppy/dog the instructions must include at least ONE session on a child’s appropriate interaction with the dog. How do we get the message across? I don’t have a clue.

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